What I Want my Daughters to Know about PPD

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I hate postpartum depression. I hate that I’ve had it, I hate how it characterizes my memories of both of the girls’ early days, and even more, I hate that me having had it puts them at higher risk for it in the future.
I am thankful for the easy pregnancies and labors I can “pass on” to them as much as it gets passed on, but wish I could change the negative blood type, and even more, the PPD. I wish we could just ignore it, but I know that as they get older it’s a conversation we’ll have at some point, probably even before they would be getting married, because the risk of PPD can affect other hormonal fluctuations as well.

As I think about those conversations, even though they are years off, a few things come to mind.

I want them to know about my experience. I won’t share many details of exactly what I felt because I don’t think that would be healthy for me to relive or for them to know, especially because while it was what was going through my head, the depression wasn’t an accurate picture of how I felt about THEM.

I want them to know it’s not their fault at all. It may have come after they were born, but they didn’t do anything bad. They didn’t do anything to make me depressed. It’s a part of the fall, just like all the increased toil of motherhood.

I want them to know I don’t blame them and am not bitter towards them that I went through the darkness after tehy were born. It brought me closer to them and closer to Ezra and closer to God and even though it’s not a path I would ever choose, on the other side, God has used it and it was worth it – for them, and for how much closer I am to God because of it and how He has been glorified.

I want them to know that I love them MORE because of it. When I look at them and remember the heartache of PPD, I am filled with gratitude that it’s gone, with joy at how today is so different, and the Mama Bear in me holds them closer because I went through the darkness to have them, one of the ways I get to show my love for them by putting myself aside for them. They are much more precious to me because of PPD.

I want them to know that they are more at risk for PPD because I had it. That doesn’t mean they will have it, just that they are more likely to have it. I want to prepare them for that as much as possible in how I talk about my struggles, in helping them learn to ride their emotions, and in encouraging them to turn to and rely on God in every difficulty.

I want them to know that they don’t have to tell me their struggles but that I am always there for them if they want to share.

I want them to know that I will always love them no matter how they transition to motherhood.

I want them to know that God can redeem and bring light even in the darkest times, and that PPD or any other struggle is not the end, even if it sometimes feels like it. He may be silent at times, but He is always faithful.

Backyard – April

We are loving having a backyard, and I love watching it change with the seasons. Here’s where our plants were all at in April! We also love pulling out our field guide and identifying birds we see (and trying to identify the ones we hear!).
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we don’t know what everything is but everything is beautiful nonetheless.

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We are trying to garden, but we’re fighting the squirrels and lack of sun!

Motherhood Lately

{a mish-mash of thoughts I’ve had over the last few months – some things I’ve been learning, some things I wish I’d known with #1, some things about some of the things we say to moms… published on my #1’s 2.5th birthday}

Some things I’ve been learning
– Learning about all of life being worship – even the putting me aside to read a story for the tenth time. “Worship is viewing the worth of God in His word and responding to that worth in every area of our lives.” (paraphrase from Behold Your God) – and when He, not I, is the center of my universe then I can joyfully choose to do things I don’t want to do… even read Pinkerton dramatically AGAIN.
– Learning to sift through my feelings, their fussing, and social media to find their (and my) REAL needs – not how I or they or pinterest or other moms perceive them, but what they really need – which is the same as what I really need – to be brought to God. Learning to ask “how can I glorify God in this situation? What is His will (not my list) for me today?”
– Learning to respect my kids and see them as whole persons with their own fears and loves – being compassionate towards them and making sure I connect with them as much as possible.
– Remembering I am parenting little people with eternal souls who are lovers & worshipers.
– Being content being “just” a mom – finding my plate full with just daily life and not having as much time for writing and music anymore left me trying to juggle everything for a while which often ended up in everyone upset after I played oboe for a few minutes. So learning to not be defined by hobbies or feeling like I need to keep up with them! I still enjoy writing (but it’s pretty much just this blog and emails!) and music (but it’s 15 minutes maybe 3x a week, though I am playing at church again which is wonderful!). That combined with a year in Japan where we could go anywhere any time because of public transport to having one car, and months of craziness for the move leading to me always having something to do so if I have time to play with the girls I often feel like I’m forgetting something and need to be doing something else. But it has been so freeing to learn to just sit and play or read or tramp around the yard.
– Feeling “myself” again – I am feeling more myself after PPD but at the same time coming to realize that my identity shouldn’t be in certain personality traits or likes and dislikes but in Christ, and that who I am changes!

Some things I wish I’d known with #1
– Your child’s sleep is not a measure of good or bad parenting (This seems so obvious now but I really did often feel like I was either failing or doing well based on how S slept).
– Pray FIRST. Root your mothering in dependence on God and His word… not googling what the best schedule is. There are times that can be helpful, but I really benefited from a while of being internetless because I realized how much I tried to find fixes for problems that were really in my heart.
– What’s “best” is what works for YOU and your family.
– Your baby is not annoying you on purpose. Life is new to them and they’re trying to figure it out as much as you are.
– Set timers and reminders! This makes such a difference for me in remembering to take vitamins, and it makes such a difference for S when I say we can do something “when the timer goes off” instead of “in five minutes,” plus it keeps ME accountable to follow through!
– Don’t suffer in silence. If you’re really burdened by something, especially if you feel like you’re the only one, talk to other moms. Everyone’s situation is unique but you may be really encouraged by sharing what you’re struggling with and finding others have been there and have wisdom to share or can at least pray!

Some of the best advice I’ve received
– Worry (or be concerned) about what you can change… do something about that and leave the rest to God.
– it gets easier if you let God get bigger
– trust in the Lord… not your own understanding of a situation.

Some things about things we say to moms
– “You’re all belly/you’re not showing at all/you don’t look pregnant” – I know people mean it as a compliment but my gut reaction to that was “so I normally look like this?” since I could tell I’d gained weight and it was obvious to me that it wasn’t just in my belly (especially when I wasn’t showing yet!).
Let’s compliment or comment on things OTHER than the size of pregnant women!

– “The first 6 weeks are the hardest.” This drove me INSANE after S was born… because the first 6 weeks WEREN’T the hardest. The first 10 days she slept all the time. The rest of the first 6 weeks she slept during the day. The second 6 weeks it was a nightmare to try to get her to sleep during the day, she was sleeping on us at night because of reflux, and I wanted to yell at anyone that told me the first 6 weeks were the hardest.
With Ellie it seemed to be more true, but even still I don’t tell anyone that.
Instead, let’s remind one another that our hope isn’t in the end of a phase but in Christ.

– “It gets easier.” Well, kind of. Nursing does become second-nature. They do sleep longer and become more independent. Their wake time will be more than just nursing them and you’ll be able to do things while they’re awake, and then it gets easier again when they are awake long enough that you can run errands during their awake time. But as all those things happen there are also a lot of things that get harder. So when S was 3 months old and it didn’t feel any easier I again wanted to yell at anyone that said that. And once more, I can feel it getting easier more this time, but I think a lot of that is that I know the light at the end of the tunnel by experience… but even still, I think instead we should say what my sister told me: “It doesn’t always get easier, just different.” There will always be hard things but they change. And I think it’s also true to say “it doesn’t get easier, just better.” They smile, and laugh, and play, and talk, and sing, and bring you flowers, and tell you stories.

– “Oh, don’t worry, you’ll love them immediately.” Or anything else that just brushes off a pregnant mama’s fear. You may have been worried about that and ended up being immediately smitten, but she may not be (I wasn’t). So instead how about we share our experience and offer encouragement in case it’s not that way for them? “You might not feel that way at first, and you might even struggle with any thought of ever being at peace with welcoming the other child in… but you will find your way, you will make new special memories with all of you.”

What are you learning about motherhood? What do you wish you had known? What are ways you like to encourage new moms?
(Noel Piper and some others share some of their thoughts in this video!)

P.S. for some of our favorite practical pregnancy and baby stuff, click the links!


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Love our backyard!

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finishing some tea my friend brought us from China

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The rain cover we paid $50 for barely works but the umbrella my Aunt gave us that they got for free works perfectly.

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had the privilege of going to a ladies’ retreat where the speaker had grown up in the UAE and so the food was very middle-eastern themed, complete with baklava. S stayed home with Ezra and Ellie charmed everyone as the only baby there, and I was refreshed and encouraged.

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Ellie has learned how to get into the toy bins.

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homemade nutella on homemade bread

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another use for homemade nutella

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turban squash – unstuffed, and stuffed
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she’s like a dwarf in Smaug’s lair with the rocks at the beach

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turned around in the kitchen while making breakfast and found a note from Ezra instead of a to-do list (he didn’t erase it I’d just forgotten to write it the night before). It was a nice way to start the day!

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Making beeswax food wraps. One thing I love about being in a house is that all our trash goes into our own bin instead of a dumpster so we can see how much we really make, and it’s always a fun challenge to try to decrease the amount. Now that I pack lunches for Ezra we were going through more ziplock bags and I didn’t love a lot of the reusable ones since they still have plastic or vinyl or are not water resistant for things like apple or cucumber or air tight enough for a sandwich. So I’m hoping these wraps help us out in that area!

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we’ve had more sunny days lately

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Starting Sunday trying a new tea and listening to Mahler 3 and Shostakovich 7 || my mother in law gave me some blue lotus chai for my birthday and we have since tried two of their variations, this one being our favorite.

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THIS BOOK. I can’t recommend it enough for anyone in the midst of depression, anyone helping someone through depression, or just wanting to read more about it.

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so… Tillamook makes mint chocolate chip ice cream sandwiches.

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a highlight of my month: donating 130 oz of milk to a family adopting an 11 week old. It looks like I can donate to them long term which makes me so happy as that’s what I was hoping to do when I started pumping a few extra ounces every night.

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my dad stopped by for a few days and my grandparents drove over to see us all.

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And S had been asking for another tea party so we had a brunch tea party.

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sleeping under my quilt for the first time ever! It’s too warm for our blanket but too cold for just our comforter so I put my quilt on top and it’s perfect.

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Getting my Azure order is like Christmas every month.

Hymns of the month// Ah, Holy Jesus

favorite recipes// chunky probiotic salsa // flourless plantain pancakes // blueberry streusel cake // date breakfast squares (a healthier version of a favorite of mine) // whole wheat sandwich bread – we’ve been struggling with this for a while and we now have three recipes that have worked: one, two, three // baklava bars (I would use pistachios instead of hazelnuts for a more baklava-y taste, and not toast the almond flour as it burns fast!) // aip carrot cake – I made just one 10″ cake in a springform pan // twisted star bread – used homemade nutella instead of jam // karak chai // balsamic lime vinaigrette // pumpkin & sage savory muffins (made these according to recipe but with dried sage, then made again swapping applesauce for pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice for sage, and coconut oil for olive oil!) // pannukkau (Hannah made this for us after Ellie was born and we had to make it again) // whole wheat maple cinnamon rolls (YUM YUM YUM) //

best of online//  10 Lessons on Parenting Little Ones // Jesus will lead you through the valley: loving a spouse through depression // I Survived a Sarin Gas Attack // when women face their curse-ravaged homes // salt dough recipe // a cup of tea in 22 different countries // be open to God’s plan for your family // a Haydn mass // reusable food wrap // when motherhood feels overwhelming // vectorizing hand lettering without photoshop // why your kids shouldn’t follow your diet plan – good thoughts on food in general // one thing your son needs //

And the best: A Message To Those Who Kill Us.
My comments:
In Mindy Belz’s book “They Say We are Infidels,” she made a comment about ISIS about how difficult it is to defeat those to whom death is viewed as victory.
She didn’t continue that thought, but my thoughts went further: ISIS may see death as a victory, but even as they attack the church this Passion Week, the world should know that the followers of Jesus win when we die, and we can say THANK YOU and I LOVE YOU and I FORGIVE YOU even to those that seek to kill us.
But read this, because he says it all much better.
“O, you lucky, lucky, lucky ones! And until it is our turn.
To our God be the glory now and forever. Amen.”

reading of late// Rime of the Ancient Mariner // Hungry Planet // Always Ready // The Singer & The Song (Calvin Miller) // Missional Motherhood (Furman) // Spurgeon’s Sorrows (Eswine) // The Ology (Machowski) // The Land I Lost
Also skimmed: When the Darkness Will Not Lift // Finding Faith in the Dark // A Sacred Sorrow // Give them Grace // Hints on Child Training // Give Your Child the World

thinking about// healing & rebuilding after PPD // phases of sabbatical and moving beyond the “just stop” part // Hebrews 12, pursue peace with all men includes my children and affects how I plan my day // podcasts – never got into them before and don’t love how “chatty” they get but still encouraged by Jess Connell (Mom on Purpose), Risen Motherhood, The World and Everything in It, IBCD, and Sally Clarkson (At Home With Sally).

what brings joy// sunny weather & blue skies // fog // understanding more about my PPD

The Munchkins// fill our days with laughter and craziness (and if we’re honest a good does of crabby for all of us too, see above).
Ellie is eating more solids. She gets so grumpy when we eat unless she gets to chew on something too. So we recently started with our mix of babyled weaning + WAPF + GAPS, especially since she started sitting. I need to make more broth, and she hates carrots, is OK with avocado and the broth, likes egg yolk, and adores gnawing on cucumber sticks. I love helping her explore food but the transition makes me sad as up to that point it was entirely my body that grew and nourished her which is an awesome feeling (and now i have to start thinking about carrying food for her too!) And we hope to keep nursing a good long while more!
It’s also nice not to have to worry so much about reactions to food since Ellie hasn’t had the stomach troubles S did.

And S hadn’t ever asked for anything before but she had been asking for and talking about a bicycle for a while so when I saw one on the resale page we had to get it. She loves it.

A Forest Hymn

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THE GROVES were God’s first temples. Ere man learned
To hew the shaft, and lay the architrave,
And spread the roof above them—ere he framed
The lofty vault, to gather and roll back
The sound of anthems; in the darkling wood,
Amidst the cool and silence, he knelt down,
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And offered to the Mightiest solemn thanks
And supplication. For his simple heart
Might not resist the sacred influences
Which, from the stilly twilight of the place,
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And from the gray old trunks that high in heaven
Mingled their mossy boughs, and from the sound
Of the invisible breath that swayed at once
All their green tops, stole over him, and bowed
His spirit with the thought of boundless power
And inaccessible majesty. Ah, why
Should we, in the world’s riper years, neglect
God’s ancient sanctuaries, and adore
Only among the crowd, and under roofs
That our frail hands have raised? Let me, at least,
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Here, in the shadow of this aged wood,
Offer one hymn—thrice happy if it find
Acceptance in His ear.

{read the whole thing here. Photos from recent hikes!}

Hungry Planet: Washington, USA

We really enjoyed the books “Hungry Planet” and “Material World,” by Peter Menzel, and decided that while doing our own version of Material World – putting all our stuff out in our yard – was too much, we could do our own Hungry Planet! So for kicks, here’s what we ate in a week and some stats. We hope to do this every few years to see how our food habits and family change.
As a side note, we highly recommend both books as a great way to learn about the world and other cultures, and it really makes you realize how much we have as Americans and how little we have to complain about – I felt really guilty complaining about our 950 square feet in Japan feeling small when you read of families of 10 living in 200!

April 2017, Washington State.
2 adults, 1 2.5-year old, 6 month old baby (eats only a bite or two of food a day, but ups my appetite!)

Eggs & Dairy: $14.49
2 dozen eggs 8, purchased from local farm
1.5 gallons milk, 1 quart+ used for yogurt
1 lb monterey jack cheese 5.49

Meat: $22.09 (est. yearly consumption per adult: 130)
1 lb grassfed beef 7.50
15 oz can wild caught salmon 4.59
4 lb organic chicken $10

Produce: $43.51
4 lbs oranges 2.36
2 eggplant 3.36
daikon radish 1.5 lbs, 1.76
8 cucumbers 3
2 lbs frozen green beans $2
1 lb frozen corn 1
.5 lb bok choy .74
spinach bunch 1.48
green onions .38
serrano chili .04
2 lb mexican squash 2.50
10 lbs squash 7.80
2 lbs carrots $1
4.5 lb roma tomato 3.57
cantaloupe 2.48
3.5 lb yellow onion 1.51
2 heads garlic .80
2 lemons 1.32
1.2 lb satsuma 1.83
4.2 lb bananas 2.38
2 lb green cabbage 1.10
3 limes .39
2 avocados 1.36
plantain .71
*5 lbs potatoes
usually – less side veggies (ie, mexican squash, squash – and instead 3 heads of lettuce)

Condiments, Snacks, Drinks: $23.11

applesauce 3.58
ketchup 3.29
worchestershire sauce 3
seaweed 2.39
.6 lb walnuts 3.86
1 lb tahini 6.99
*homemade kombucha
*natural peanut butter
(Won’t use all the tahini, applesauce, ketchup, worchestershire sauce in a week, but there are always weekly purchases to restock pantry items so I included it anyway!)

Grains & Legumes: $5.88
1 lb dry chickpeas 1.49
15 oz can refried beans 1.39
2.5 lbs organic oats $3
*5 lbs organic whole wheat bread flour, for making bread & pizza dough
*.5 lb quinoa
*2 c cornmeal
*1 c green lentils

*not included in price/bought previously or in bulk
Not pictured: olive oil, coconut oil, honey, also all purchased in bulk.

Rough total: $113.08
(I was actually really surprised by this as normally it’s more and I didn’t feel like I skimped on anything that week)

We generally make one grocery trip every week, and every four weeks pick up our co-op delivery. Every few weeks I make a second grocery store run to stock up on meat at a store that is more expensive but has better options for meat.

What we ate
This is something I wish they’d had in the book so am including it for us.
Ezra: overnight oats x2, banana x2
S & I: yogurt and granola x1, oats x1, overnight oats x1, eggs x2
All: veggie frittata, breakfast star/bread

leftovers most of the time, on days we didn’t have enough leftovers, we supplemented with sandwiches with homemade bread, veggies and hummus, and -almost-7-layer dip.

Salmon chowder with green beans
Okonomiyaki, miso soup, daikon and bok choy
Tamale pie, squash
Lentil chickpea salad with tomato and cucumber side salad
Curry and yogurt chicken, quinoa, green beans
stuffed squash and cantaloupe
Pizza, roast potatoes, any leftover fruit and veggies
Saturday night church potluck – brought roasted zucchini and eggplant

Hummus & veggies
breakfast cookies
Kombucha jello
frozen peas

Words By S

My sister did this a while ago with her oldest and I thought would share some of the funny things S says that really brighten our days. Her chatter can drive me crazy sometimes when she repeats the same things again and again but mostly I really enjoy getting the front row seat on her language development!

“Mommy crying. Mommy papa hold you.” (responding to a woman crying on TV)

“S, what’s your favorite food?” “Uncle David.”
“S, what was your favorite part of today?” “Uncle David.”
“S, who’s your favorite Aunt?” “Uncle Susannah.”

S, with her mouth full. “Nobody.”
Kyleigh starts laughing, trying to hide it, excuses herself to laugh.
S: “Mommy crying. Mommy throw fit.”

“Tummy hurt. Need sammich.”

“cupkick” = chapstick

“wrapping paper” = tortillas, napkins

“Where was the last place you wore your hat?”
S: “ona head.”

“I three months old.”

“tubby bear” = teddy bear

Planting garlic with Ezra: “baby garlics go night night. Baby garlics wake a nap. Baby garlics pretty.”

“Say ‘lasagna.’” “Susannah.”

“Toes dirty. New toes, new toes, I need new toes!!!”

“allergetty” = alligator